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US-banned minister vows to block US bid to prohibit Iran development

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Iran's Minister of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi

Iran's Minister of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi has dismissed US sanctions on him, saying he will not let Washington prohibit Tehran's development.

On Friday, the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control added Azari Jahromi to its sanctions list that would freeze any of his property under US jurisdiction and prohibit Americans from any dealings involving those assets.

It claimed that the Iranian minister had advanced a policy of "repressive internet censorship," a reference to a nationwide internet shutdown during recent riots after the government decided to hike gasoline prices

In a post on his Twitter account on Friday, Azari Jahromi responded to the sanctions, saying the US had already targeted "ICT startups, Developers, Cancer patients and EB children."

He also pledged to keep advocating access to the Internet and not let the US prohibit Iran's development.

Iran’s Supreme National Security Council ordered the internet shutdown last week after a group of “saboteurs” were found to be using online services like navigation and maps to coordinate riots in large cities.

The riots marked hooligans and thugs attacking security forces with firearms, knives and other lethal weapons, leaving several people dead.  

They took advantage of peaceful protests against a government decision to hike petrol prices by 50%, wreaking havoc in several cities where public property was destroyed and banks and gas stations were torched.

Russia said Thursday Washington's reaction has “left us puzzled since most of the things that sparked the discontent and other processes that are taking place in Iran were actually brought upon the Islamic Republic by the US’ own actions.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has voiced outright support for rioters, saying “the United States is with you.”

On Thursday, Pompeo urged Iranians to send him videos, photos and other information documenting what he called the "crackdown on protesters”. 

Under the administration of President Donald Trump, the US has unleashed the “toughest ever” sanctions against Tehran, notably targeting its key oil exports, since scrapping the 2015 nuclear deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Back in April, the White house terminated sanctions waivers for major buyers of crude from the Islamic Republic in an attempt to bring Iran’s oil exports to “zero.”

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Thursday Tehran’s decision to raise fuel prices was the result of the “illegal and massive sanctions pressure” that the White House is exerting on the Islamic Republic.

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